Local Leaders Talk Revitalizing Darien at Economic Forum
City and park district officials, business owners and real estate brokers gathered at Indian Prairie Public Library to share their thoughts on Darien’s business climate
You have to position yourself for the goals you want to achieve, Darien Chamber of Commerce Chair Mary Kay Slowikowski said at Wednesday’s Economic Forum.
By the end of the morning, a theme for that position had emerged: revitalize Darien’s economy.
Leaders from across Darien, including city and park district officials, business owners and real estate brokers gathered at Indian Prairie Public Library to share their thoughts on Darien’s business climate and how they want to see it grow.
“When we’ve got an exciting, revitalized community, we’ll have no problem getting the community here. They’ll be here,” said Slowikowski’s husband and business partner, Norb Slowiskowski.
The city has begun to entertain ideas for the other two properties south of that parcel along Cass Avenue, just north of Plainfield Road, he said.
“It’s very attractive and gets a lot of traffic,” Coren said. “We’re hoping to really upgrade to that type of facility.”
Chris Hochstedt, of Exit Real Estate, said a unified look would help fuse Darien’s commercial centers into a cohesive business hub. He pointed to redevelopment efforts in Downers Grove that blend common architectural elements so residents know it’s all part of the same district.
The real estate outlook in Darien is very positive, he said, because fewer homes have fallen to short sales than in surrounding communities. A healthy residential base makes a community all the more attractive to businesses and consumers alike.
But reminding that existing residential base what they have in their own backyard is a critical part of a robust economy, said Neighbors magazine founder Tim Sullivan.
“Sometimes it’s easy to forget how important that base is to our community,” he said. “We need feet on the street for brick and mortar to survive.”
The chamber has already begun working on some initiatives suggested at last week’s focus group aimed at growing business in Darien, Mary Kay Slowikowski said. Projects include a job-shadowing program that connects area high school students with Darien business owners and a “cash mob” that directs people to a locally owned store at a specific date and time.
“I’m really excited about some of the things we could make happen that could make an impact,” she said.